My youngest son and I have been studying Frederick Chopin with the wonderful homeschool music program, Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades from Zeezok Publishing as part of the Homeschool Review Crew. As always, all opinions are our own.
For me, music is a subject I want to teach the boys but sometimes fail to do. Or should I say that I fail to schedule it into our days on a regular basis.
That’s a big reason why I get excited for any fine arts review opportunity. I then have a reason to dig in with them. This time it is more in the realm of music appreciation.
Homeschool Music Program
A few years back, our family was fortunate to review Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades from Zeezok Publishing.
While it could be done in one year, we took our time. Now they have another set out which is geared for middle grades.
Components of the Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Curriculum
Like before, this curriculum uses biographical reading for the base of the program. These are from the Great Musicians series and present their lives through a story for younger students to appreciate. Within the pages are illustrations to bring the story to life as well as occasional music selections by the composer from that time frame.
For this set, the composers covered are:
- Frederic Chopin, Early Years
- Frederic Chopin, Later Years
- Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff
- Adventures of Richard Wagner
- Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray
- The Young Brahms
- The Story of Peter Tchaikovsky
- Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet
- Edward MacDowell and His Cabin in the Pines
Zeezok’s Music Appreciation softbound Student Activity book has several components. This includes comprehension questions on the reading, character qualities exhibited by different individuals, and a variety of learning opportunities.
Unlike the first book, this one uses QR codes for the student to access the music samples as well as expanded learning opportunities. Alternatively, you can access their website (address in the student guide) to find all the necessary files and videos.
Additional resources for purchase (which we were not sent) include a Coloring Book and a Lapbook.
How to Use Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades
With the exception of Chopin, each composer is studied over the course of 4 weeks. A Weekly Outline appears at the start of the composer’s section in the Student Activity Book. If the activity has a star by it, then you need to complete it to meet national music appreciation standards.
You begin by reading the assigned chapter or chapters from the listed book.
Then you can progress through the activity book as desired, keeping those starred options in mind as you work.
Specific Types of Activities Found in the Student Activity Book
Comprehension Questions (with room to write out answers)
Tidbits of Interest
Basic Music Theory
Hands-On Learning Opportunities (e.g. recipes, lapbook suggestions, etc.)
Each composer also has a concluding quiz to assess the student. An answer key for the composer is included at the end of that composer’s section.
Our Thoughts on this Homeschool Music Program
My youngest son and I adore spending time with this program.
I think it is mostly that we do the reading aloud (me to him most of the time), so it is an excuse to sit close together on the couch.
But, he has also been more interested than before in looking at the printed music while listening to the associated sample. I think this has to do with a maturity a few years brings to him. Each time we have done a listening selection he then asks if I can play it on the piano as well.
As a busy homeschool parent, I appreciate them marking the most important aspects of each week with the star. If something is missing that star is of little interest, we can skip it. Although, for the first few weeks of our study on Fredric Chopin we did most of the activities.
I have wondered if it would be worth ordering the lapbook materials (pre-printed format.) Since my son is not super keen on writing things down on his own, I’ve decided to not add that layer. Even the comprehension questions have been done orally.
What I do like is seeing him find a renewed interest in music. He especially likes hearing stories of these famous people which bring a dose of reality. Chopin was an amazing musician but also had many other talents. And, he was quite the prankster. Many music appreciation programs for older grades would be more focused on the music and less about the humanity of the artist.
Looking to the Future
We only managed to work through Fredric Chopin for the review period. We are looking forward to delving into the 6 other composers.
While I know my son likes to go in order most of the time, I am planning to shift the order slightly.
Because I think learning about Tchaikovsky needs to happen during November and December. The activity pages include a bit about music and other forms of art. And, the holiday season is the perfect time to delve into The Nutcracker.
Does your family enjoy learning more about musicians?
Would Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades work well for your family?
Don’t just take my word for how we found this to be. Visit the Zeezok Publishing review post on the Homeschool Review Crew website to see what other homeschooling parents thought about this book.